Weekly Energy News Update-July 2nd

Unfortunately, I could not find something fun to begin this week’s update. I spent five days this week at conferences and workshops so feeling a bit of academic overload at the moment but I’ll share a brief thought that came to mind. I remember hearing at one of the workshops in Olso that in terms of environmental impact flying a scholar overseas is equivalent to a few months of driving their car. This is not the first time I have heard such statements but have always felt Joseph Nevin’s study of the 2011 AAG makes this point more explicit (and accurate). I once wrote a blog (unfortunately the WCAA removed that part of their website) discussing the possibility of shifting academic conferences online, but was instantly cut down a peg or two by more established scholars who felt strongly about the irreplaceable need to “shake a colleagues hand” every now and then. Admittedly, I found this past week was extremely productive, but I am remain unconvinced that the academic benefit of meeting face to face at such conferences somehow outweighs the environmental costs. Then again, over the past year here in Oslo I have also been collaborating with a group of scholars from all corners of the globe focused on the problem of air pollution in China and there are aspects of our long-term interaction in a single location that absolutely could not be replicated online. Just as food for thought, with new energy regimes on the horizon, perhaps it makes sense for academics to “take our own medicine” by re-prioritize our own practices, including the way we interact with each other.


Efficiency

China energy demand may already have peaked (Reuters)

This peaking of energy demand is a combination of energy transition, but also increases in efficiency as old plants are continually shut down. There is some discussion in Chinese media that the economic slowdown in China has also had an impact, as has the transition to a technology/digital economy as discussed in the piece below.


Finance

Asian tech supplants oil as main fuel for emerging stocks (Reuters)

Actually the opening of this article may raise some eyebrows for those following the intersection between energy and finance: “Not very long ago, a 17 percent oil price fall would have sent emerging market stocks into a tailspin. But this year they are set for their best first half since 2014.

GE Energy Financial Services Raises Largest Solar Fund in Japan (EnergyTrends)

Sistema says court ‘arrests’ stake in its largest asset over Rosneft dispute (Reuters)


Grid

Ukraine power company says was hit by second cyber attack (Reuters)

ADB approves USD 150 million loan to support power supply in Nepal (India Times)

Australian firm looks to bring cheap, green energy to the poor (Reuters)

Smart Transformers Will Make the Grid Cleaner and More Flexible (IEEE)

New computer virus spreads from Ukraine to disrupt world business (Reuters)

It appears now that this week’s major virus attack was the result of initial attempts to take control of Ukraine’s power grid. As the first article notes, there was even a second attack later in the week.


Labor

Brazil unions protest Temer’s reforms amid political crisis (Reuters)

This article is a bit contradictory, the unions appear to be united in their strike action, but Petrobras claimed it has had “limited impact at oil refineries“.

Steelworkers union warns of strike at Philadelphia refinery (Reuters)


Pipeline

TigerSwan Faces Lawsuit Over Unlicensed Security Operations in North Dakota (The Intercept)

EPA’s New Water Safety Official Is a Lobbyist With Deep Ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline (The Intercept)

Still more important revelations about the implementation of DaPL in North Dakota

U.S. says it has issued permits for three U.S.-Mexico pipelines (Reuters)

ING bank says it will not finance major Canadian pipeline projects (Reuters)


Politics

Statoil moves key IT tasks from India back to Norway (Reuters)

A Vast Chinese Province Just Went a Week Without Fossil Fuels (Mother Jones)

While this sounds remarkable, there is also far more electricity produced in Qinghai than can be utilized by the 6 million people in the province, but it was recently reported that upwards of 30% of the electricity produced by solar and wind was unable to mount the national grid due to quotas taken up by coal-fired power plants.

Tanzania to pass laws next week to renegotiate minerals contracts (Reuters)

Also has implications for all forms of multinational extraction industries, such as oil and gas.

Rework power supply deals to boost renewables (India Times)

Trump seeks to project global power through energy exports (Reuters)

Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be something profoundly disturbing about seeing these white men standing in front of the words “Unleashing American Energy”.

Kick-starting an African clean energy revolution – one pedal at a time (The Ecologist)

Canada says it wants single body to assess major energy projects (Reuters)

Cyprus says to push ahead with energy plans despite challenges (Reuters)

Few resource-rich countries properly manage their natural resources (Reuters)

For those interested in the index used to come to conclusions discussed in this article see this website developed by the Natural Resource Governance Institute


Technology

Chilean scientists produce biodiesel from microalgae (Reuters)

China taps ‘combustible ice’ from sea floor, but extracting gas will be a costly challenge (AFP)

In May this was hailed as a major breakthrough in energy production by Chinese media, but since then there has been a wave of skepticism.

Panasonic HIT® Solar Module Sets Temperature Coefficient Record (EnergyTrends)

Advancements in Scottish clean energy (Hydrocarbon Engineering)

Don’t hear as much about hydrogen storage in the news, but here is project that seems to think they have a solution.


Transportation

Coal

EPA wins U.S. court reversal over coal jobs study (Reuters)

FYI the Robert Murray discussed in this case is the same that has brought a defamation case against John Oliver.

China to ban coal imports at small ports from July 1 (Reuters)

As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants (New York Times)

Great article explaining that while China is taking measures to reduce their dependence on coal at home (which is one reason for the port ban above), abroad they are helping build more coal plants.

New coal power plants may block Japan’s carbon emissions goal (Reuters)

India’s policy panel proposes break up of Coal India into 7 firms (Reuters)

Fight over Rio’s mines means coal isn’t dead; Adani woes show it’s dying (Reuters)

Although Russell takes his typical financial perspective to analyze the “death” of coal, there are some important insights to take from his analysis of the sale of various Rio mines currently on the table. Food for thought at least. Here is the result of the Rio-Yancoal deal.

 


Gas

How the gas industry can help fight climate change in Siberia (The Conversation)

Russia’s Rosneft set for global gas tussle with Gazprom (Reuters)

In Blow to ‘Clean Coal,’ Flawed Plant Will Burn Gas Instead (New York Times)

Actually IEEE has followed this project closely and have written a detailed account of what went wrong here.

Brazilian study urges Petrobras to cut Bolivian natural gas purchases (Reuters)

China pumps cash into African floating LNG projects in strategic push (Reuters)

 


Hydropower

Hydropower projects with 13,363 MW capacity register cost overruns (India Times)


Nuclear

Nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam: World’s envy, India’s pride (India Times)

Quote from the tagline: “This novel nuclear reactor is a kind of an ‘akshaya patra’, the mythical goblet with a never-ending supply of food.

U.S. trade group says no nuclear power plants have been hacked (Reuters)

U.S. warns businesses of hacking campaign against nuclear, energy firms (Reuters)

I would like to draw your attention to the timing of these two articles. The U.S. trade group article was released half an hour before the article about the U.S. government report, which does go against a kind of causal logic regarding the timing of releasing information and reacting to that release of the information. Of course, the government report had already been circulated within the Energy Corporate community for a few days, so the industry spokesman (whoever that might be) had time to prepare a (typically vague) statement. Notice, though, that the author of these two pieces is the same. The point is that the media is quite capable of warping our sense of the flow of time as well as the link between action and reaction. It may be useful to think about to what purpose does this warping serve as well as whether or not it is even intentional (a slippery slope) or just the result of institutional gears grinding away.

French regulator says Flamanville reactor is fit for service (Reuters)


Petroleum

Brazil’s Petrobras to review diesel, gasoline prices more frequently (Reuters)

UK taxpayers face multi-billion burden for dismantling of North Sea rigs (Guardian)

Militant group withdraws threat to attack Niger Delta oil industry (Reuters)

Poland’s PKN and Lithuanian railways strike deal over fuel transport costs (Reuters)

In disaster’s wake, BP doubles down on deepwater despite surging shale (Reuters)

Anyone done research on the names of BP’s deepwater platforms (Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Na Kika and Mad Dog)…the author describes them as audacious…not sure that’s the adjective I would choose.


Solar

Solar Trade Case, With Trump as Arbiter, Could Upend Market (New York Times)

And Americans think protectionism is a good way to protect jobs…well here is a clear example of where it won’t.

Local solar manufacturers seek ‘Safeguard Duty’ (India Times)

Californians take a shine to solar power (AFP)

Thai Packing Factory Buildings Install Solar Frontier’s CIS Solar Panels (EnergyTrends)


Wind

For the First Time, Offshore Wind Power Will Be Profitable Without Subsidies (IEEE)

Dutch govt: zero subsidy bidders get first shot at North Sea wind project (Reuters)

World’s first floating windfarm to take shape off coast of Scotland (Guardian)

Wind power’s big bet: turbines taller than skyscrapers (Reuters)

The approaching Era of the Megaturbine…Seems a bit dramatic, but I imagine there must be a point of peak efficiency with regard to turbine size. Perhaps some one on the listserve could write a post about this topic?


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